Knowing how to ask for referrals without being pushy is a must, so you can avoid turning off your customers.
Imagine that you’re a customer who just finished a delicious meal at a restaurant. The owner approached you and insisted on bringing in five new customers within the week to receive a discount on your next visit. Then he pressures you for your friends’ contact numbers, which leaves you feeling uncomfortable.
This diminishes the positive experience you had with the meal.
A “pushy” approach can leave customers feeling pressured, erode their trust in your business, and increase your risk of negative word-of-mouth. On the other hand, a more natural and genuine approach can make them feel valued, so they are more likely to refer others.
How Referrals Can Lead to Business Growth
Referrals can lead to business growth by converting more people into customers.
For example, let’s visualize a local pastry shop known for its delicious cream puffs. The bakery has a loyal customer, Nadine, who frequently purchases from them. She loves the pastries so much that she recommends the bakery to her friends during random conversations.
Nadine describes the taste and presentation of her favorite cream puffs to her friends and encourages them to give it a try on their next get-together! Her friends end up becoming satisfied customers and also share their experiences with their other social circles.
Because of the number of referrals made over time, the bakery started receiving more customers, who also became regulars.
Referrals often come from trusted sources such as friends, family, and colleagues. This gives the recommendations a layer of trust and credibility, so the people referred are more likely to convert!
Moreover, referrals rely on the principle of word-of-mouth recommendations, which can quickly extend your business’s reach. This allows you to tap into audiences that might not have been reached through traditional marketing channels.
Referral marketing is also more cost-effective compared to traditional advertising. This allows you to acquire more customers at a lower expense, which helps free up your resources for other plans you might have for increasing your business.
How to Ask for Referrals the Right Way
Now that you know how valuable referrals are, your next question might be, “What is a good way to ask for a referral?”
The tips below can help you avoid being pushy.
1. Provide excellent service.
The right timing is key in making a referral request more natural.
Ideally, you want to make the request when the customer has expressed satisfaction with your product or service. Doing this ensures that you get a favorable response.
Satisfied customers are more likely to refer others naturally. This is why it’s important to ensure that your product or service consistently meets or exceeds customer expectations. It builds trust with customers, so they are more likely to recommend your business to others.
Moreover, excellent service promotes customer loyalty, which also contributes to business growth!
To provide the best products and services, you must understand your customers’ needs, preferences, and expectations. Respond promptly to inquiries, concerns, and feedback. This demonstrates that you value their time and are committed to addressing their needs.
2. Ask for feedback first.
A customer-centric approach to asking for referrals shows that you genuinely care about their experience and satisfaction. You can do this by first asking your customers for their honest feedback.
This not only provides you with valuable insights to help your business improve but also builds trust with your customers. Remember that trust is essential for successful referral requests, and customers are more likely to refer others to a business they trust.
Feedback can benefit you in the following ways:
When you receive positive feedback, you can highlight the specific aspects they appreciate about your business when asking for a referral. On the other hand, if there are any issues, you can address them promptly before asking for a referral!
3. Offer an incentive.
If you’re looking for creative ways to ask for referrals, you can do it through a referral contest. This adds fun to the process and encourages customers to actively participate.
Incentives are powerful motivators to encourage people to make referrals, especially if they align with a customer’s needs, wants, and preferences. People are more likely to take action if they believe they are receiving something valuable in return for their referral.
For example, you can conduct a referral campaign where referrers can earn a discount for every 3 successful referrals. Another idea is a milestone giveaway where people can earn more rewards the more people they refer. Or you can launch a giveaway with one big prize, where the winner is randomly chosen.
There are many possibilities with referral campaigns!
When running a giveaway, keep the entry process simple and user-friendly. Complicated procedures can discourage participation.
Also, don’t forget to use multiple marketing channels to promote the giveaway. You can use email, social media, and your website to maximize visibility and reach.
A campaign that generated nearly 3,000 referred leads in 30 days
Let’s consider Silvia Llop, a psychologist specializing in relationships, who needed referrals to grow her newsletter. 💌
She chose to do a referral milestone contest where she gave away rewards that her target audience found relevant. These included a PDF she wrote herself, access to one of her 4 courses, an interview, and more.
In the screenshot below, you’ll also see that Silvia gave away a “GRAND PRIZE” to the person who brought the most people to her newsletter.
Given her campaign’s success — getting a total of 5,329 leads with 2,934 of those leads being “referred leads” — it’s obvious how incentivizing people can work in just a short time.
💡Learn how to choose a contest prize that attracts qualified leads and helps you go viral by reading this guide.
4. Send follow-up emails.
If you have an email list, then you should also learn how to ask for referrals via email.
Email marketing can be an effective tool for generating referrals, as long as you’re not being pushy. Begin by expressing gratitude for a customer’s business, as this lays the foundation for a referral request.
Next, focus on delivering valuable content to your subscribers such as tips or exclusive content that aligns with their interests.
After some time, introduce your referral program or contest gradually. You can mention it casually in a newsletter and highlight the benefits for the subscriber and their friends. Emphasize the value they can gain through incentives or exclusive offers. Use language that is inviting rather than demanding.
💡Running a contest already? Here are examples of 5 follow-up emails you can send in the middle of the campaign.
5. Make it easy.
Simplifying the referral process increases the likelihood of customer participation. This way, customers can refer others quickly, which leads to more referrals!
To do this, provide clear and concise instructions on how customers can refer others.
A step-by-step guide ensures that they understand the process. Another tip is to use user-friendly platforms and tools for the referral process, whether it’s an online form, referral link, or dedicated webpage.
If you can, minimize the steps required for a referral. Allow customers to refer others through communication channels they use, such as email, messaging apps, and social media platforms. Personalized referral links are easy to share, and ensure that referrals are properly attributed.
6. Use soft language.
A respectful and non-intrusive communication style can help avoid a pushy tone. You can achieve this by using soft language when asking for referrals. By doing so, you can reduce any sense of pressure or obligation that might make customers uncomfortable.
Soft language is characterized by a gentle and considerate tone.
Below is an example:
"Thank you for purchasing our product. If you ever come across someone who could use it, your recommendation would mean a lot. Only if you feel it's a good fit!"
Remember to convey genuine appreciation for choosing your business. Understand that they can decide whether or not to make a referral.
7. Show appreciation.
After making a referral request, make sure to listen to their response and adjust accordingly.
For example, if the customer is not comfortable with the idea of referring others, respect their decision and thank them for their honesty and consideration. If they express hesitations and concerns, respond to them promptly and address misconceptions. Keep the conversation positive and avoid being overly insistent.
On the other hand, if they express willingness to provide referrals, don’t forget to show gratitude as well. Regardless of their response, always show appreciation for their support of your products or services.
The next step is to modify your approach for future referral requests. Reflect on the interaction and refine your strategy.
A respectful and considerate approach to asking for referrals involves recognizing a customer’s right to make choices without feeling pressured. You take into account their preferences, potential concerns, and comfort levels when making a request.
A customer-centric approach is helpful since satisfied customers are more likely to refer your business to others. Don’t forget to highlight the benefits of making a referral, because giving an incentive can motivate them to act! 🙌🏻
If you’re interested in running referral campaigns that have the potential to become viral, you can check out UpViral! Click here to learn more.